It seems like it was ordained from the moment he signed on the dotted line. For whatever reason, the Reds have been rumored to be hot on the trail of Sarge Jr. for several months now. Whether he's a favorite of Walt Jocketty or it's because Dusty Baker played with Gary Matthews Sr., the Reds were one of the few teams interested in his services. Now, his return to the MLB level seems an inevitability.
GMJ made his baseball reputation on the basis of 1) a strong (and allegedly chemically enhanced) 2006 season with the Rangers, and 2) one of the more remarkable catches of recent vintage.
In 2006, GMJ posted a slash line of .313/.371/.495 for the Rangers, which was far and away his career best season. His catch and the offensive production caught the eye of the Angels who offered him a 4-year $37.6M contract. They regretted it immediately.
"Matthews, former Angels Troy Glaus and Scott Schoeneweis and St. Louis outfielder Rick Ankiel were not suspended because of "insufficient evidence" to determine they committed a violation, baseball officials announced. Their links to human growth hormone occurred before it was banned by baseball in January 2005.
Matthews, who allegedly received HGH in August 2004 and had it sent to a Mansfield, Texas, home, met with MLB officials in early November to discuss his links to performance-enhancing drugs. His involvement was originally reported during spring training. After more than two weeks of silence, Matthews said in a statement that he had never taken HGH. He has refused to address whether he purchased HGH."
GMJ failed to live up to the level of his career best season, tailing off to a lackluster .252/.323/.419 in 2007. Unfortunately for GMJ and the Angels, it only got worse over the life of the contract. By the time it was over, his contract was an albatross and GMJ was relegated to "sunk cost" status. In the end, the Angels ate almost the entire contract simply to be rid of him.
At that point, the Mets tried to resurrect his career and utilize him to cover for the injured Carlos Beltran, but his inability to best the Mendoza line led to his release. At that point, the Reds were poised to strike. Earlier this offseason, for reasons beyond comprehension, the Reds were rumored to be interested in GMJ. Ultimately, the Reds failed obtain his services and the Reds nation breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Of course, the reprieve was short lived, as the Reds ultimately got their man. The Reds signed GMJ after the Mets cut him loose and immediately sent him to triple-A Louisville. For the Bats, GMJ has gotten off to a .375/.375/.625 start and it's difficult to imagine him being there for long.
At this point, it seems more a matter of when, not if. And, of course, it'll be interesting to see whose roster spot he claims. You have to imagine that Jonny Gomes, Drew Stubbs, and Jay Bruce are safe. So, that leaves Lance Nix and Chris Heisey. The latter is the better talent, but may benefit from playing everyday, while the former is a veteran who swings from the leftside.
At this point, it's difficult to see what value GMJ brings to the table. His offense has been in a state of annual decline, his defense is below average at best, and there have been questions about his attitude and impact on the clubhouse. Of course, that makes him a likely candidate for the leadoff spot in a Dusty Baker lineup. At this point, he comes with quite a bit of baggage and even more question marks. When and if he does get the call, he'll have to hit the ground running to make a case for playing time.
Still, I'm betting he'll be on the 25-man roster within the next 7-10 days. It just doesn't make sense for the Reds to sign a 35-year old outfielder unless they viewed him as a legitimate option at the MLB level..........I hope I'm wrong.